Michigan Football: Two Weeks Gone, An Optimistic Look Ahead

John ZimmermanContributor ISeptember 13, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Tate Forcier #5 of Michigan is hugged by a teammate after scoring a touchdown late in the game against Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)

Nine months ago, Michigan fans had their heads in their hands as the Wolverines fell yet again to the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. Five straight losses against the Bucks, and nine losses on the year. The worst season in Michigan football history.

Nine months after that miserable final loss, the Wolverines are back on track to reclaim their spot atop the Big Ten Conference and working their way back into the national scene.

Two games into 2009 and the Wolverines are only one win from matching and two wins from surpassing their win total from all of last season.

With Eastern Michigan (0-2) and a weaker Big Ten team in Indiana (2-0) next on the schedule, the chances of Michigan winning those games and improving to 4-0 are very high.

Since 2000, only one Michigan team has started the season 4-0. That was the 2006 team, who would win their first 11 games before falling to Ohio State and then USC in the Rose Bowl.

After Indiana, the Wolverines will travel to East Lansing to square off with their in-state rivals Michigan State. The next week they will go to Iowa City for a Saturday night prime-time showdown with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Saying the Wolverines can get through those two daunting Big Ten road games, they will have a great shot to move to 7-0, as they play host to Delaware State.

Don't worry, guys, I don't think we have an Appalachian State-type scare here. No Armanti Edwards or Dexter Jackson-type players in that game. Michigan will be fine.

Penn State comes to Michigan Stadium the next week in what I think is the second biggest game of the year (next to Ohio State, obviously). After Michigan had the Nittany Lions' number for much of recent memory, Penn State blasted Michigan in a 45-17 wipe-out at Beaver Stadium last year.

If the Wolverines do falter somewhere between Eastern Michigan and Delaware State, this will be the perfect opportunity to get that edge they lost back.

Michigan then heads to Illinois to battle another team that blasted the Wolves last year, the Fighting Illini. Illinois doesn't seem as good as they have recently, so this is a great chance for Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines to smack the team that put a beating on them at the Big House last November.

After a home game against a rebuilding Purdue team, Michigan will head to Madison, Wisc., somewhere the Wolverines have had serious struggles. They have not beaten the Badgers in Wisconsin since 2001, so this is a big game for Michigan.

Also, they have to focus on not looking ahead because, that's right, Ohio State is lurking next on the schedule.

"The Game" is definitely the game of the year for Michigan. It's always one of Michigan's biggest games, and this year is no different. Five straight losses to Ohio State has built up anger and insanity for Michigan fans.

If there was ever a time for Michigan to knock-off the Bucks, this is it. While they do have Terrelle Pryor, and have some talent at offensive skill positions, Michigan's offense should be at its highest level by week 12 and it should help them finally slay the men from Columbus.

This may be a VERY, VERY optimistic outlook, saying that 12-0 is in some way or another a possibility. But hey, anything's possible, right?

This time last year, the Michigan faithful were wishing and hoping for improvement. Well, after a long, hard-working and physical off-season, Michigan fans got their wish.

At 2-0, people are smiling. There's an optimistic buzz surrounding campus. Big Ten and national recognition are now possibilities.

The big man on campus is a freshman quarterback. One year after the worst season in school history, people feel as if that season never happened.

No one this time last year was talking undefeated. No one had any positive vibes. There were no freshman heroes or big-time upsets. Twelve months later, here we are.

Man, what a difference a year makes.


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